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Carnivorous Plants

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Carnivorous Plants

Published 1955

On the surface, this film may seem like an average biology film, but like most of films from the Moody Institute of Science, there is an ulterior motive. The filmÂs host Irwin Moon had an interest in science as a child and later incorporated that interest into his life as a pastor. He would tour the country giving his ÂSermons of Science where the marvels of science provide the visible evidence of a Divine plan of creation. His work with GIs during World War II showed him the impact that training films had on the troops. Moon partnered with the Moody Bible Institute to form the Moody Institute of Science  a company that made basic science films with a religious hook at the end. While revealing the complexity of nature, their films would end with Moon saying that this complexity was part of God's plan rather than evolution. Moody Institute of Science films were marketed to churches and also to public schools where today even the mention of the word "God" sparks a conflagration of protests and court cases.

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Production Company Moody Institute of Science
Audio/Visual sound, color


Reviewer: Victor Von Psychotron - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 25, 2014
Subject: Interesting look back at science class
This is a neat look back at how botany was taught in high schools during this time. I'm sure some kids got squeamish watching bugs being trapped and eaten. The religious message underlining the whole thing is also interesting. You wouldn't hear that now.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 24, 2006
Subject: Don't believe in God and plants...
Nice colorful film here about yes, evil plants in the plant kingdom. Venus fly traps, pitcher plants and the ilk. And why are they there? Well, since this is a Moody Science Film, the only reason is, because GOD put them there! Yes, there is a real cheesy level here because of the religious factor, and the host just oozes the heebie jeebies. Although this is nowhere near as good as all the Prelinger Science in Action movies, these do have their charm. Plus it¡¯s in amazing color.
Reviewer: marcodp - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 29, 2005
Subject: Out of fear I'm tempted to abstain
My concern is with the lack of reviews on the scene of the Pitcher Plant, on how nobody seemed to pick up on how the pitcher plant looks somewhat feminine, and the fact that it gets crawled into by a caterpillar, long and cylindrical, that may be interpreted to be decidedly masculine in contrast to the pitcher plant. Even the size of the plant, "6 to 8 inches deep and as much as 1 to 2 inches wide" is not too dissimilar to sizes of human female organs.
Now I admit that I've been accused of thinking of a certain topic I'm alluding to more frequently than I should, but at this particular instance I feel the need to insist. One of a few things that caught my attention were "the tiny hairs on the welcome mat", hairs that after the symbolic passage of the caterpillar were no longer all so welcoming. Then the evangelical ideal that such an object contains a "pool of death". The idea that the caterpillar's falling victim to the satisfaction of his curiosity was to take "the line of least resistance", and that once he commited his passage getting out was "an entirely different matter". And then to conclude Moon's report on this plant "when an insect topples in [...] a pool of liquid will put him to sleep and then digest him" I find this detail of sleep quite amusing since a man's hormones, after orgasm, leave him with a desire to sleep. Then the idea of toppling in, falling to temptation as one might put it in a sermon, and then the insect being digested by the object of his curiosity. I thought this was enough, but to further the image the insects are referred to as hims ("the liquid will put him to sleep and then digest him") and not its. It is interesting to note the change in tone from the "tiny hairs on the welcome mat" to just after this scene, the ambiguous "beautiful isn't it?", sounding almost sarcastic in demonstrating the brutality of nature. Then to add a little touch of detail is the music and how it reaches a climax as the caterpillar falls in and that music is used only in images of nature, with the exception of a forecast in the opening scenes to when man seeing the world from such a great distance will be commonplace.
I think the Moody Institute of Science's film, Carnivorous Plants, isn't just about saying man cannot create traps as complex as God's, but is also about saying that man should observe and admire and that knowing the potential dangers should not take "the line of least resistance".

-Marco, Florence
Reviewer: longhair_hippy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 8, 2005
Subject: Long before the Discovery Channel - or the Moody Nerd Trap.
Hello again,

The short "Carnivorous Plants" has been recycled to be included into a 25 minute production called "Rights of priority". This movie talked about carnivorous plants, and added trapdoor spiders, and the diving spider which uses a bubble of air on its belly to stay alive underwater.

The title "Rights of priority" (was it right of way?), was used to "prove" that God has invented through his creations, what man claims to have invented: The Venus Fly Trap preceded the classic bear trap, the diving spider's air bubble preceded the scuba tank, etc.

As I stated in my review of "The mysteries of Time", the movies were presented at at least three world's fairs (Seattle in 1962, New York in 1964-1965, and Montreal's Expo 67, and its sequels from 1968 to 1975. Sermons From Science used what is now the Spectrum for a venue in 1976 for the Montreal Olympics.

I find that watching the films again, bring back my childhood naiveté. I remember comments in one of the Moody Science Institure productions, stating that on the very same day that Galileo invented the Telescope, Anton van Leeuwenhoek invented the Microscope.

Science is not the main purpose of this series of films, it is the evangelisation of the nerds. However the photography, for the time was breath-taking and was indirect advertising to encourage the pursuit of a carreer in science. This was before the Discovery Channel, and in the sixties, there weren't too many science documentaries on TV, though there were a lot of nature, history, and Georgraphy documentaries.

Have a nice day,

Georges in Montreal.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 2, 2005
Subject: God Is Good, Though Sadistic
A creepy guy gleefully tells us all about how various carnivorous plants trap and digest innocent insects. Then he tries to sneak in stuff about how only God could have made such things, not any sort of evolutionary process. It comes off as saying only God could be that sadistic. I think God would be insulted by such a notion.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Reviewer: Wilford B. Wolf - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 13, 2005
Subject: Intelligent design?
A rather interesting science film with a Christian bent regarding insectivorous plants. The film opens with a montage of shots of the latest advances in modern transportation technology; the automobile, airplane, a rocket. Next, we cut to a man who talks about the wonders of technology, using a mousetrap as an example.

This leads to the discussion of the most famous of the insectivorous planets, the venus flytrap. The mechanism for triggering the trap is explained, using a bear trap as a comparison. As this and other similar plants are explained, such as the pitcher plant and the sundew plant, the tone is always how these plants are superior to man's attempt at imitation. However, it is not until near the end that God is mentioned explicitately. There is a sense of awe about the complexity of such plants, and it would seem like this is the sort of film that those in the so-called "intelligent design" school of biological science would make 50 years later.
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